40. Visit The Train Lady’s Train Garden Masterpiece

Train Lady Gardens in North Barrington, Illinois

Of all the things to do in Barrington, there’s one event coming up tomorrow that I’m so excited to check out with our kids. The famous “Train Lady” of North Barrington is opening the fabulous train gardens on her 10-acre property to the public tomorrow, June 25th. It only happens once a year and this will be my first time getting a close-up look at one of Chicagoland’s most unique and special garden properties, right here in our own back yard.

Train Lady Gardens in North Barrington, Illinois

Photo Courtesy of David James and Huff & Puff Industries

You have to see to believe the amount of work Train Lady, Elaine Silets, has put into her private Gardens at Wandering Tree. On her property you’ll behold The Gloree & Tryumfant Garden Railway, which includes 6,000 square feet of tracks, bridges, trestles and a waterfall where water drops into a stream which flows into a lake. Talk about a feat in intricate garden plumbing!

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39. Speed Read "Mennonite in a Little Black Dress"

Mennonite in a LBD

It’s 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday (6/22) morning and I have a wicked case of insomnia.  My mind is racing like that of a pregnant woman weeks away from giving birth.  Wait a minute.  I AM a pregnant woman weeks away from giving birth.  So much to do.  So much to think about.  So little time left.  And who is this wee one I’ve been schlepping around for the past eight months anyway?  Is it a girl?  Is it a boy?  It’s a mystery, that’s all I know, and the anticipation is starting to kill me.  Which brings me to a new challenge I just cooked up while lying in bed, saucer-eyed and staring into the darkness to the sound of my husband snoring.  Who wants to read a book with me in seven days?  I have until my book club meets next Tuesday, June 28th, at 8 p.m. to read “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home.”

I am a textbook book club slacker, but I’m feeling like I can get this done in a week and it would be more fun if you read it with me, so here are the details:

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38. Follow Your Dad’s Lead on Father’s Day

Photo Courtesy of Artisan Events Photography

 There are some days when being a parent feels like the hardest job on earth. Your kids fight over finger puppets, a little tangled hair leads to a major meltdown and if the milk’s not in the purple cup, you’re just not going to win.  You end the day defeated, depleted and emotionally wiped, with … Read more…

37. Offer ‘Hands of Hope’ at Garden & Antique Faire

Hands of Hope Garden in Zambia

The private gardens of three luxury Barrington estates will be open to the public over the next two days and this modest woman in the midst of her own community garden in Africa is part of the inspiration.

Hands of Hope Garden in Zambia

Photo Courtesy of Hands of Hope

She is growing vegetables in Mongu Zambia that she will use to feed her family and to sell at market. Her blushing smile is bright because her garden is green and her children will have food.  It’s all thanks to funds raised over the years by the group behind the annual Barrington Country Garden & Antique Faire being held this Friday and Saturday.

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36. Welcome Back to the Barrington Farmers Market

Weekly Farmers Market Returns to Barrington

We’ve been waiting since last fall for this!!! The weekly Farmers Market returns to Barrington for its 11th season this Thursday. So get ready for some freshly popped kettle corn, the balloon man, the lemonade guy and the return of some of your favorite farmers.  Plus, prepare to meet some brand new vendors this year.  To get into the spirit of the season, I found some of my favorite farmers market photos taken by Barrington photographer, Anthony Tortoriello.

Weekly Farmers Market Returns to Barrington

Photo Courtesy of Anthony Tortoriello and AtortPhotography.com

I also caught up with Farmers Market co-chair, Margaret Myren, earlier this week to get the scoop on which vendors are coming back and who will be new to the market this year.  You’ll be excited to find out what she had to say…

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35. Be Proud to BUY American at Norton’s U.S.A.

Shop American at Norton's U.S.A. in Barrington, Illinois

It’s Flag Day, the stars and stripes are flying in Barrington and one local business is celebrating four years of supporting workers who make goods right here in America. If you’ve never stopped by Norton’s U.S.A. on Lageschulte Street, you’re in for a pleasant surprise and this is a great week to visit! The old fashioned general store is celebrating their fourth anniversary in business this week by hosting a BINGO NIGHT and and OUTDOOR MOVIE NIGHT, along with five days of specials, starting today.  Drop by and you’ll even get to meet the store’s proprietor, Deborah Leydig. She’s a professional actress with a passion for all things American.

Shop American at Norton's U.S.A. in Barrington, Illinois

Norton's U.S.A. General Store Proprietor, Deborah Leydig

When you step inside Norton’s, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time.  The rural retailer’s digs are deliberately down home.  The building was originally a livery barn, dating back to the early 1900’s.  Deborah bought the property in 2006 when it was The Workshop of Barrington, the business of a local furniture maker.  They refurbished the building, painted it red and opened for business in June of 2007.

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34. Hear a Survivor’s Story and Join the Relay for Life

Cancer Survivor Speaks at Barrington Relay for Life

A Barrington mom will be sharing deeply personal details about her ongoing fight with cancer before a huge crowd gathering at Barrington High School on Friday night. She’ll be speaking on behalf of area cancer survivors before the “Survivors Lap” which kicks off Barrington’s 2011 American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Her name is Sue McGrath and her story is as moving as it is motivating. But Sue represents just one of hundreds of Barrington cancer survivors for whom this weekend’s Relay will plant new seeds of hope.

Cancer Survivor Speaks at Barrington Relay for Life

Tom and Sue McGrath of Barrington, Illinois

“On April Fool’s Day 2005, I got the call that we all dread…” Sue will open up to us on Friday night about what happened next after she was told her breast biopsy was malignant. When she heard the news, she immediately immersed herself in research about her disease. “…Not only is there major surgery, but there is also the fear associated with chemotherapy and radiation. And then there is the fear of dying…” Sue made quick decisions. She had her surgery. She received 33 cancer treatments in six weeks and meals from friends and neighbors for many months until her cancer was gone. But her story doesn’t end here…

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33. First Annual Dash for the Dogs Family Fun Day

Dash for the Dogs in Barrington, Illinois

Now here’s a first for Barrington…a 5K that’s for the dogs!!! There are a number of road races in town throughout the year, but there’s a new one happening TOMORROW where your pooch is part of the program. That’s right. Take some laps with Fido for a good cause tomorrow in the first annual Dash for the Dogs at Citizen’s Park.

Dash for the Dogs in Barrington, Illinois

The Dash for the Dogs is hosted by and will benefit Animal House, a non-profit, No-Kill shelter for all breeds of dogs and cats in Huntley, Illinois. The cost is $30 and the run starts promptly at 10 a.m. tomorrow, but the signup will begin well before that.

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32. Celebrate Barrington High School’s Class of 2011

Celebrate 2011 Barrington High School Graduates

It’s a big day for Barrington High School’s Class of 2011! The senior students are graduating with some impressive honors and achievements tonight.

Celebrate 2011 Barrington High School Graduates

Photo Courtesy of District 220 Chief Communications Officer, Dr. Jeff Arnett

There are 750 BHS students graduating during tonight’s commencement services which begin at 6 p.m. at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington. I wanted to find out a little more about this year’s graduating class, like where many of them are going to college and what their biggest accomplishments have been. So this morning I called District 220 Chief Communications Officer, Dr. Jeff Arnett, and the things I learned may surprise you!

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31. Meet Cook Co. Board President, Toni Preckwinkle

Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle Visits Barrington

Do you live or work in Cook County? Do you have questions about how our tax dollars are spent? Are you curious about the changes in store now that there’s a new Cook County Board President at the helm? Well, get this. The new woman on top, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, will be visiting Barrington on Monday of next week to talk about her plans for the county and answer our questions. It’s a rare opportunity to meet one of the key players in Cook County government, right in our own back yard! A great turnout will send a message that Barrington cares and is paying attention to county business, but there are only a few more hours left to RSVP.

Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle Visits Barrington

Cook County Board President, Toni Preckwinkle

Ms. Preckwinkle was elected last November and sworn in last December as the first woman elected president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. She succeeds Todd Stroger, whose family occupied a seat on the Cook County Board for 40 years. At the outset, Ms. Preckwinkle made a promise to repeal her predecessor’s sales tax increase. She also warned that her first county budget will include some big cuts to begin easing the county’s $478 million budget deficit.

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